WASHINGTON, D.C. — Club for Growth Foundation today released its Missed Votes Arkansas scorecard for the General Assembly’s 2021 regular and special sessions. The newly launched Missed Votes Scorecards calculate how often lawmakers show up to vote and how often they miss votes.
Lawmakers miss votes for a whole host of reasons, including medical issues, family concerns, prior commitments, purely political motivations, or other reasons. The Club for Growth Foundation generally doesn’t analyze why a lawmaker has missed a vote and is simply publishing this quantified information for educational purposes only.
According to Club for Growth Foundation President David McIntosh, “Constituents need to know the missed votes records of their representatives so they can decide for themselves if elected officials are avoiding a difficult vote or have a legitimate reason for missing a particular vote. Sadly, this information is often not available, and that is why the Club for Growth Foundation is publishing Missed Votes scorecards.”
This scorecard is based on a review of all floor votes taken in the Arkansas General Assembly from January 8, 2021 to October 8, 2021. There are inherent limitations in judging the overall qualifications of any legislator based on how many votes he or she has missed, and the Club for Growth Foundation does not endorse or oppose any legislator for public office.
The average Arkansas senator missed 5 percent of 1,307 total floor votes, with Republican senators on average missing 4 percent of all floor votes and Democrat senators on average missing 8 percent of all floor votes. Sen. Stephanie Flowers (SD-25) missed the most votes – 392 votes out 1,103 – for a score of 30% missed votes. No senators received a perfect attendance score, but Bart Hester (SD-1) had the best attendance with 5 missed votes.
Arkansas House of Representatives
The average Arkansas House member missed 8 percent of 1,333 total floor votes, with Republican members on average missing 7 percent of all floor votes and Democrat members on average missing 12 percent of all floor votes. Matthew Shepherd (HD-6) missed the most votes – 1,313 out of 1,333 – for a score of 99% missed votes. No House members received a perfect attendance score, but Gayla McKenzie (HD-92) had the best attendance, each with 5 missed votes.
We asked the lawmakers who missed at least 10% of the votes if they’d like us to include an explanation. Here are the responses we received:
Sen. Gary Stubblefield (SD-6): You have lost your mind. I suggest you make an appointment with a truth doctor. Have a nice day.
Rep. Deborah Ferguson (HD-51): My daughter, who is an ER Physician, had a baby during COVID and I missed a few days to help her with the baby. I watched every session online and paired my vote on bills where the vote would be close. I think you will find that the votes that I missed were overwhelmingly bills that passed with large majorities.
Rep. Julie Mayberry (HD-27): I was out for a few days due to my daughter being in the hospital having surgery. I also was out due to my own medical reasons…a reaction to the Covid vaccine that sent me to the ER.
Rep. Mathew Shepherd (HD-6): Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to explain. I’m currently serving my second full term as Speaker of the Arkansas House. As the presiding officer the Speaker traditionally does not vote on the vast majority of legislation, which is also a common practice of many other presiding officers of other bodies. In fact, House Rule 11. (h) specifically states: “The Speaker shall not be required to vote, but may do so at his/her discretion.”